Northstar California with kids: a stay at Big Horn Lodge

As with any large Tahoe ski resort, families have many lodging options at California’s Northstar-at-Tahoe, from rental homes to studio suites and condos, to hotel rooms. For our three-day weekend family getaway, we choose to stay in a luxury condo at Big Horn Lodge. Operated by Tahoe Mountain Lodging, Big Horn Lodge is located ideally in the heart of the Northstar Village. From our 5th floor balcony, we could watch the Big Springs Gondola whisk skiers and boarders up the mountain and eye the comings and goings on the lively village street below.


Last winter, our family enjoyed a week in an isolated vacation home on the south side of Lake Tahoe, so at first, the kids weren’t sure how much they’d like being so close to the action. They were won over by ‘village life’ almost instantly; they loved being steps away from the village ice skating rink (open afternoons and evenings and free to use), the hot tubs (directly across the village street from the Big Horn building), and most importantly, enjoying the novelty of grabbing their skis out of our assigned Big Horn locker and walking 35 steps (yes, they counted) to the gondola.


Our 1300 square foot two-bedroom, two-bathroom Big Horn condo included a full, gourmet kitchen (stocked with everything you’ll need except groceries), a dining area, living area (with fireplace), and sleeping space for six (two bedrooms, plus a quite comfortable pull-out sofa). The kids loved the deep tubs, and I appreciated having a full-sized washer and dryer…no more damp gloves! Our ski locker downstairs fit six pairs of skis, and the proximity to the lifts made getting three kids ready to go each morning very easy. Ditto for the reverse: it was so fun to ski right down to our door!

NorthstarIn the evenings, we stepped outside Big Horn (located at the end of the village next to the slopes) and walked just a few doors down to all village shops and restaurants, as well as the ice skating rink (rentals are $10, and run big), where the kids (and me!) loved roasting marshmallows on the big fire pits (surrounded by welcoming outdoor seating). Tip: S’mores kits are available for purchase at True North, directly across from the ice skating rink, but plan ahead…they close at 8 pm!

All Tahoe Mountain Lodging guests enjoy the use of fitness centers and hot tubs located within their properties (the closest to us was right across the street in the Catamount Lodge) and the heated outdoor pool (with lap lanes) in the Village Swim and Fitness Center (directly across from the village near the Hyatt). All amenities were within easy walking distance for our family.


Bottom line? Our condo at Big Horn Lodge was beautiful inside and out, but what guests are really paying for (and is it ever worth it!) is the location. At the end of our stay, I asked the kids again if they would rather be deep in the woods like last year, and they couldn’t decide! They truly loved both experiences, but if a relaxing stay for you, Mom and Dad, is paramount, go for village living! Our experience at Big Horn Lodge was the epitome of logistical ease: everything we needed was at-hand, and we never even saw our car again until we checked out!

Date last visited: January 26-28, 2012

Distance from the interstate: Several miles off I-80 near Truckee CA.

Rates and reservations: Rates vary by season and condo size. The rate for our two-bedroom, two-bathroom Big Horn condo was $425/night, at the time of our booking. Rates for a similar condo range from $300-900.

Directions: Northstar-at-Tahoe is located 30 minutes from Reno, NV or three hours from Sacramento, CA off of the Highway 267 exit on Interstate 80 (I-80). Follow signs from Big Spring Drive to the second loop (by the Hyatt), where you’ll see parking for Tahoe Mountain Lodging. Check-in is easy at their offices (open to 11 pm nightly).

As I disclose whenever applicable, Northstar-at-Tahoe and Tahoe Mountain Lodging generously hosted our stay at Big Horn Lodge. This compensation came with no expectation of a positive review.

Northstar on Dwellable

About the author

Amy Whitley AUTHOR: Amy Whitley is the founding editor of Pit Stops for Kids and content editor of Trekaroo. She writes on staff monthly as a family travel expert at Go Green Travel Green and Practical Travel Gear, and contributes to Outdoors NW as an outdoor adventure traveler. Find Amy at Google.



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